- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 13, 2008

From combined dispatches

Police were searching Saturday for a gunman who wounded two Israeli policemen on patrol in Jerusalem’s Old City, in what officials described as a nationalist attack by a Palestinian.

The shooting, which took place just before midnight Friday at Lion’s Gate, was captured on a security camera, but the assailant’s face was not visible in the darkness, Israel Radio said. The gunman fled to a nearby cemetery and apparently was not hit by police fire, the radio said.

In Jerusalem, green-clad Israeli security forces rounded up Palestinian men overnight in an Arab neighborhood close to the Old City, forcing some to lie on the ground stripped to their underwear while others stood against walls. Red police tape crisscrossed the Lion’s Gate entrance, barring people from entry.

On Saturday morning, traffic crawled to a halt outside a main Israeli checkpoint between Jerusalem and the West Bank, apparently as authorities searched for the perpetrator.

Also Saturday, Palestinians fired a rocket into Israel from Gaza, the army said, a violation of a three-week-old truce between Gaza’s Hamas rulers and Israel.

The attack in Jerusalem was the sixth since the beginning of the year. A week earlier, an Arab construction worker went on a rampage with a huge earth-moving vehicle, killing three Israelis before he was fatally shot. In March, a Palestinian from Jerusalem fatally shot eight Israelis in an attack on a Jewish seminary in the city.

Meanwhile, Israeli officials Saturday said they had received a report from the Lebanese militia Hezbollah on an Israeli airman missing for more than two decades, potentially clearing the way for a prisoner swap between the two foes, officials said Saturday.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was expected to bring it for a vote before his Cabinet on Tuesday, the officials said on the condition of anonymity since no official announcement was released.

Hezbollah said in the report that it does not know what happened to Lt. Col. Ron Arad, who has been missing since he was captured alive when his fighter jet went down over Lebanon in 1986, the officials said.

According to the document, Hezbollah thinks that Col. Arad is dead, the officials said.

Under an Israel-Hezbollah deal, Israel will hand over Samir Kantar, a Lebanese man serving multiple life terms for a 1979 attack in Israel’s north. Israel is also expected to release four Hezbollah prisoners and dozens of fighters’ bodies.

In return, Israel is to get two soldiers captured by Hezbollah in a 2006 cross-border raid that set off a fierce 34-day war. Mr. Olmert has said that he thinks the soldiers are dead.

Israeli military officials said the exchange is likely to take place this week, pending final approval by the Cabinet.

Col. Arad’s daughter, Yuval, urged authorities not to declare her father dead nor to give up the search for him. Israel has been reluctant to announce that he is dead in part because rabbis require proof that he is no longer living.

“It sounds strange perhaps but you can’t declare a person dead just because you don’t know,” Miss Arad told Channel 10 TV on Friday. She was an infant when he disappeared.

Col. Arad was forced to parachute out of his fighter jet after one of its bombs apparently malfunctioned. The jet’s pilot was rescued by Israeli forces, but Col. Arad was captured by guerrillas from the Shi’ite Amal organization.

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